Vandalism on the cultural heritage of Manipur

O Kumar  Singh
Culture is the symbol of human behavior passed through generations by way of learning. This symbol of human behavior is expressed either in tangible or intangible forms. Tangible culture includes buildings, monuments, landscapes, books,  works of art, artifacts, archaeological sites, etc., while intangible culture are folklore, traditions, language, performing arts, knowledge and skill, etc. Thus cultural heritage implies a shared bond of a community. It represents our history and our identity, our bond to the past, present and the future.
Considering the importance of the cultural heritage UNESCO adopted resolutions to protect and preserve the cultural heritages. Under this many cultural heritages have been declared as world heritage, among which ‘Manipuri Sankirtana’ is now one of them. In Manipur also for the preservation and protection of the cultural heritages ‘The  Manipur Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1976’ was adopted. Under this Act as many as 63 monuments and archaeological sites have been declared protected since the establishment of Manipur Archaeology office in 1978.  In spite of the implementation of the Archaeological Act for the protection and preservation of the cultural heritages of Manipur there are still many incidents of vandalism on our cultural heritage. One very sad incident is the damage done by way of quarrying at the ‘Tumu Ching’ hillock with bull dozer destroying a very important archaeological site located towards north-east of Laimanai village in Kakching district.
The surface of this hillock is covered from top to the down slope with a thick deposit of iron slags. This suggests a very ancient iron smelting work at this site. At present only a small area to the north-eastern slope of the hillock is left undisturbed.  Archaeologically this site will be one of the best places for the study to reconstruct the iron smelting industry in the ancient past of Manipur. Photographs of the hillock on different dates will show the damages done to this site. Not only important for archaeology, this site may also be one very attractive tourist sites, if developed as per the archaeological perspectives. An immediate archaeological survey is suggested throughout the State of Manipur to map the archaeological sites and remains for the preservation and protection of the cultural heritages in Manipur. Lack of knowledge on the importance of the archaeological remains and sites may be one of the reasons for such destructive activities. Creating awareness on the importance of the cultural heritages is needed.